Conference Call Etiquette

Conference calls are one of the most often cited pet hates of employees. Even though the technical problems associated with them are becoming less common, many employees find their motivation to participate and provide ideas are shut down by the impersonal and difficult to coordinate nature of these calls.

As with all conversations, the behavior of others is greatly influenced by the physical presence of another and how they represent themselves. This does not exist in a teleconference call because each person is in their own environment and not in the formal setting of a meeting. Also, many of the visual indicators that temper how individuals behave together are lacking, such as facial expressions and body language.

Conference calls are becoming more and more common nowadays. Some companies even use them on a daily basis and for a variety of different functions. But are they truly helpful? We all know that they take up time and keep you tied to the phone for the duration…but do they really accomplish enough to make it worth the time?

The answer to this question is, truthfully, that it depends on the situation. I am sure that there are companies who waste their manager’s time with conference calls that don’t accomplish anything, but to say that they are a ‘waste of time’ or only an ‘interference’ in general may not be a fair way to describe them.

Conference Calls

The truth is that conference calls can actually be a good thing if used for the right reasons. They can also definitely contribute to productivity if they are dealing with issues that are relevant and necessary to your job. It can be challenging, however, to put your mind into a place where you are not very annoyed by them. They do, after all, require you to close your doors and tune the rest of the world out… which, as every first-level manager knows, is a huge challenge in today’s modern workplace.

So in what ways are conference calls conducive to productivity? Why do they have the potential to benefit the organization, and how do you spot the benefits on days when they just seem to get in your way? Those are great questions, and here are some conference call tips that might help you to avoid frustration next time you get one of those well-known, but seldom liked conference calls.

Conference Calls Save Time and Money

Conference calls can be a great way to hold a meeting without actually having everyone in the same place. This is great news for businesses with locations in different cities, different parts of the country, or even different countries altogether! While conference calls may definitely seem like an interference at times, keep in mind that they are actually saving time by allowing a group of individuals from different places to communicate in real-time. Imagine if you had to travel to where the conference call was initiating from… every time you needed to attend one of these meetings?

So remember… next time you get frustrated when your day is interrupted by a conference call, remember that you are, at least, not being required to travel somewhere far away to get the information.

Conference calls, in addition to saving time, also save money. It costs relatively nothing to make a thirty-minute conference call… but imagine how much it would cost the company to get everyone on that call to the same place for thirty minutes? This is especially true of companies with offices overseas.

Conference calls are usually associated with boosting sales or service quality. But isn’t that what business is all about? Even if you don’t think that a particular call has been useful, keep in mind that upper management is simply doing what they believe to be right for the organization. Even if you don’t learn anything from a conference call, remember that someone else may have… so try to think of them in a positive light instead of getting frustrated with how they eat into your time.

Try To Avoid Negativity

You would be surprised at how much your attitude has to do with your stress level at work. Next time you plan on getting a conference call, try to think about it in a positive sense. Instead of getting frustrated and stressed because it is interrupting your day, try to remember that you are doing the right thing by being there. Since you don’t really have a choice about whether to join in or not, you might as well keep your thought-processes positive, and avoid the negativity that threatens to rise up inside of you. Here are five conference call etiquette tips you should strive to follow to get the most out of these often frustrating business meetings.

  1. Mute your phone when you are not speaking and keep background noise to a minimum.
  2. State your name before speaking so that others on the call to know who is speaking and can better understand the context of your comments.
  3. Avoid becoming distracted by emails in your inbox, social media updates and coworkers asking questions.
  4. Follow the agenda and if items need to be discussed in greater detail than the time allotted, then call the individuals concerned later.
  5. Appoint a call leader to email out the agenda, direct the conversation, make sure everyone sticks to the agenda, pays attention to time, and follows up on any action items.

Key Points

  • Discussions via conference calls enable collective decisions to be made in real time regardless of the country that each individual decision maker is in.
  • You should encourage proper use of conference calls so that they improve productivity and do not become just another type of unstructured and unproductive meeting.
  • As a manager you should aim to set a good example by giving each conference call your full attention even if you have other important things to do.
  • If other participants sense you are distracted then they will feel justified in not giving the call their full attention. By setting the example that all conference calls must have a purpose, a time limit and will be run along similar lines to a meeting you will reduce the number of unnecessary calls.
  • To get the most out of these often frustrating calls you should ensure that everyone involved follows some basic conference call etiquette like: keeping background noise to a minimum, stating their name before speaking, and giving the call their undivided attention.

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